Delhi Police Special Cell says Samiun Rahman, who was arrested Saturday, also went to Syria as a Human Aid volunteer, where he fought for al-Qaeda in Aleppo.
It was during his classes on ‘religious studies’ inside a jail in the United Kingdom in 2010 that Samiun Rahman, an alleged al-Qaeda operative who was arrested from Delhi Sunday, is said to have met hardliners lodged in cases of terrorism
From there started his journey as a “master recruiter”, sources in the Delhi Police Special Cell claimed.
Rahman, a British national, was first arrested in London in a case of rash driving, for which he spent 11 months in jail. A few months later, he was again imprisoned for eight months for drunk driving.
It was during his stay in jail that he reportedly came under the influence of radicals, while taking classes in Judaism and Islam inside the jail.
“A debater, he often indulged in aggressive arguments, which caught the attention of jihadi elements inside the jail. They convinced him to join al-Qaeda, and put him in touch with handlers outside,” a police source said.
According to the police, there have been several instances of young Muslims being radicalised in UK jails. There are 12,000 Muslims in jails across UK, of which about 100 are in for terror-related offences.
2017 Westminster terror attack suspect Khalid Masood had told investigators that he too was radicalised in prison, police said.
Human Aid volunteer in Syria
Following his release from the UK jail, Rahman was sent to Syria for a three-month training course in how to operate an AK-47, how to recruit youth.
Sources said he went to Syria as a volunteer of ‘Human Aid’, a UK-based voluntary group, to work for Dar-Al-Salam, an orphanage in Syria. “He also prepared a fake paper trail and ID cards to prove the same. During his stay in Syria, he was asked to fight with al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda. He was then deployed in Aleppo. He also went to Mauritania, where he was influenced by salafi teachings given by leaders of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb,” an official said.
In February 2014, he was asked by al-Qaeda to go to Bangladesh.
Radicalising Bangladeshi elite
During his stay in Bangladesh in 2014, Rahman allegedly got in touch with several Rohingya Muslims, asking them to join al-Qaeda for their cause. “He made a Facebook page in the name of ‘Aid for Syria’, and initiated discussions on the atrocities and state of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Through the platform, he got in touch with over a dozen Bangladeshis, including Asif Adnan, son of a former high court judge, and Tanzeel, son of a bureaucrat, who he “managed to brainwash”. Following this, he was given the title of a ‘master recruiter’,” a source said.
Rahman was then arrested in Bangladesh in September 2014 and was imprisoned for three years. He was released on bail in April 2017, following which his handlers asked him to go to India to set up a base, police said.
Two months in India
According to the police, in July 2017, Rahman entered India to set up a base in Mizoram and Manipur to fight for Rohingya Muslims, recruit people to the cause, and raise funds. For the purpose, he stayed at various madrasas in Kishanganj (Bihar), Hazaribagh (Jharkhand) and frequently travelled to Delhi.
Sources revealed that he even planned attacks similar to the Bodhgaya temple attack in 2013 in Bihar, using people he managed to recruit from Delhi and other parts of India. Sources also said that his aim was to set up a base for al-Qaeda in Delhi, and recruit cadres for jihad.
“We have identified a few people who were assisting him in Delhi, Hazaribagh, and other places in India. However, their involvement is being investigated,” an official said.